2080 Prospect Spotlights: Notes From Around the Minor Leagues (5.27 Edition)

Feature Photo: Scott Griggs, RHP, Dodgers

We lead into the Memorial Day weekend with quick updates from Chaz Fiorino in the International League, and Dave DeFreitas filing four new reports on prospects in the Dodgers’ farm system.

Triple-A Prospect Spotlights

LogoMLBPHIZach Eflin, RHP, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’6”/215   |   B/T: R/R |   Age: 22 yrs, 2m

I got my second live look of the year of Eflin during his May 24th start at Pawtucket. The first thing to stand out with Eflin is the desirable 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame with broad shoulders, athleticism and a repeatable delivery. Also, the fact that he just turned 22 years old this past April, and is pitching in the IronPigs’ rotation at the Triple-A level.

During this outing; the right-hander’s fastball sat 89-to-93 mph, with most in the 91-to-92 mph range. This was a slight tick down from when I first saw him on April 22nd, when he was comfortably at 92-to-93 (T95). In both outings; the slider was his best secondary pitch, at 81-to-85 mph with 10-to-4 break, grading out as an average pitch. Eflin also throws a changeup and curveball that showed average potential, but he appears to slow down his arm speed, making those two offerings easy to pick up early.

He does have present command and control of four offerings with future average potential, which should lead to continued success at the Triple-A level. However, he lacks any present plus offering or swing-miss put-away pitch at present. Given Eflin’s age, frame, and present command and control profile of his four pitches, there’s still a lot to like. If the secondaries can continue to develop, it gives him a chance at being a back-end of the rotation starter in the big leagues. – Chaz Fiorino

Pat Light, RHP, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket, International League)
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/220   |   B/T: R/R |   Age: 25 yrs, 2m

Light came on to close for Pawtucket in my viewing on May 24th, and continues to show the raw stuff that gives him a valuable future in a set-up or closer role – if he can harness his control, and throw consistent strikes. In this one-inning look, Light’s fastball sat 95-to-96 mph with late life, and it got on hitters quick. He compliments the fastball with a nasty, plus-grade splitter at 86-to-89 mph with hard, late tumble. In this inning, Light was pitching off the splitter and he got into some early trouble with the leadoff batter reaching on a line-drive single to right field, and then walking the third batter of the inning on five pitches. I’d prefer to see Light pitch off the fastball, and utilize the splitter later in counts when he needs put hitters away, rather than trying to rely on it early in counts. The splitter is a tough pitch to control, and he can find himself behind in counts early trying to pitch off of it. – Chaz Fiorino

Double-A Prospect Spotlight

LogoMLBLADScott Griggs, RHP, Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa, Texas League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/215          B/T: R/R         Age: 25 yrs, 0m

An eighth-round pick out of UCLA in 2012, Griggs has had an up-and-down pro career, mostly due to his ability to simultaneously generate high SO/9 and BB/9 rates.  They read: 12.7 and 8.3, respectively, in 2012; 14.6 and 6.5 in ’13; 13.1 and 5.0 in ’14; 13.1 and 5.0 in ’15; 6.8 and 1.4 so far in ’16.  So while there is no question about the stuff, the control has been an issue.  He is 25 years old, which is old for even Double-A (where he was just promoted on May 23rd), but factor in that he missed all of 2014 and half of 2013 due to labrum surgery, and the timetable makes a little more sense.

Griggs still has the makings of a legitimate late-inning reliever, and his gaudy walk numbers have been trending in the right direction, which was also the case pre-injury. Based on what I saw from him in the Cal League, look for Griggs’ arrow to point up as the summer rolls on, and don’t be surprised if he shows up in Dodger blue by the end of 2016.  Now you may wonder how is a kid whom most have never heard of, and who has a total of four innings pitched in Double-A under his belt, would have a shot to toe a big league rubber this season?  Well, when you look a little more closely at Griggs’ numbers, you’ll see that he has a WHIP of 0.49 in 16 innings this year and was at a respectable 1.30 last year, down from 1.46 and 1.71 in 2012 and ’13 (pre-surgery).  Factor in the impressive 2.07 career ground ball rate, and the fact that he has a plus fastball and plus slider, and the picture gets a little clearer.

Griggs was a college sign, and had some polish at the time he was drafted. So if he hadn’t missed a year and half with injury, he would likely have been on a Double-A or Triple-A track this year anyway.  It also needs to be mentioned that the Dodgers have had their own bullpen issues the last couple of seasons, and the team’s 4.61 bullpen ERA in the 2015 postseason, and 6.48 ERA in the 2014 postseason, played a role in their early exits both years.  So take all that into account, and it seems like less of a stretch that a power arm like Griggs would get a shot to debut this year.

Shoulders are always iffy, and a torn labrum has ended more than one career, so for Griggs to finally be healthy, and showing like he has so far this year (even though his Ks/9 are down) has to be an encouraging developmental sign for Los Angeles. – Dave DeFreitas

Single A Prospect Spotlights

LogoMLBARIMatt McPhearson, OF, Diamondbacks (Class A Kane County, Midwest League)
Ht/Wt: 5’8” / 175  |   B/T: L/L  |   Age: 21 yrs, 2m

Evaluation Notes: Short, immature frame, narrow shoulders, minimal projection left; double-plus speed, 4.00 time from HP-to-1B from the LH box; speed is a weapon on the base paths; smart runner who reads pitchers well; slash-and-go approach at the plate; linear swing with poor raw strength; power will not be a factor; aggressive approach at the plate, fooled by spin; hit tool will play up some thanks to grounder-oriented swing and double-plus speed; average reads in left field; speed will be a factor on defense. Arm is average with a long release.

Summary: McPhearson is a slash-and-go type of player whose hit tool will need major help from his speed to play in-game. Defensively, McPhearson can handle center field, but his reads are just average, and that undercuts some of the advantage that his speed gives to his glove. 2016 is his first full season of pro ball, and he hasn’t played since April 29th due to injury. In his first 19 games, he’s slashing just .254/.366/.288, with two extra base hits over 59 ABs – Mauricio Rubio

LogoMLBLADErick Mejia, SS, Dodgers (High A, Rancho Cucamonga, California League)
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/155  |    B/T: S/R   |   Age: 21 yrs, 5m

Acquired in January of this year from the Mariners for right-hander Joe Wieland, Mejia has shown the tools that make it easy to see why both Seattle was, and the Dodgers are, high on him. Mejia is a high-energy player that features a couple of plus tools: his speed and arm strength. He is a switch-hitter, and while he doesn’t profile to hit for much power, he does have some hand speed, and he can surprise you with his ability to drive the ball to the big part of the field.

His bat looks to be just below average overall, his ability to stick at shortstop is in question, in my view. While he definitely has the arm strength and range to play the position, he has not shown great instincts this year, and he seems to struggle making plays on the move. Watching him this past month, he can get over-aggressive both at the plate and on the bases. He can hit a mistake, but will expand the zone vs. the breaking ball, and he can run into outs trying to do too much on the bases.

Ultimately, I see him moving off of shortstop and spending time in center field before settling in as a super-utility guy. His long legs seem to work best when he has some space to get going, and he’s such a good athlete that it is easy to see him adjusting and being able to range into the outfield gaps. He also seems to be far more comfortable (and accurate) with his throws when he has some time to wind up.

The strength will come, and I believe his approach at the plate will improve with more reps. Mejia was well-liked in Seattle, and often times it can be a difficult experience for a young, international player to switch organizations at such a young age. He plays hard and word is that his work ethic and makeup are both plus, so expect him to settle in and become a real asset for the Dodgers going forward. – Dave DeFreitas

This Week at 2080 Baseball…

Reports Filed:

Scott Griggs, RHP, Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa, Texas League)

Yusniel Diaz, LF, Dodgers (High A Rancho Cucamonga, California League)

Erick Mejia, SS, Dodgers (High A Rancho Cucamonga, California League)

Tommy Bergjans, RHP, Dodgers (High A Rancho Cucamonga, California League)


Notable News

  • Dansby Swanson (SS, Braves) continues to impress the Braves front office with his advanced approach at the plate at Double-A Mississippi, writes Guy Curtright of milb.com. He’s currently riding a 12-game hit streak to bump his average from .250 to .297.
  • The Durham Bulls retired the number of International League Hall of Fame member Charlie Montoyo writes Kip Coons of the Charlotte News-Observer.
  • Phil McCormick (LHP, Giants) spent the past three seasons with the Double-A Flying Squirrels. The veteran was sent from Triple-A Sacramento to Double-A Richmond on Friday to give advice to the Squirrels’ young relievers writes John O’Connor of the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
  • Josh Morgan (INF, Rangers) is feeling right at home playing in his hometown area with High Desert. The 20 year old entered Friday hitting .261. with a .344 OBP, and is on pace to set new career highs in doubles, homers, and RBIs, writes Kyle Glaser of The Press Enterprise.